Dr. Debra Dyer is an associate professor of education at Keuka College. She recently published the second edition of an interactive textbook on early childhood education. Dr. Dyer recently sat down with us to talk about her book, her career, and the international flavor she brings to her teaching. She's pictured above with her daughter, Lynley.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Endicott and now live in the home in which I was raised. I also have a home in Winter Garden, Florida where we watch Disney fireworks from our front porch! I have 2 daughters, Davra and Lynley, who both work in human services as a therapist and ARC Director, a granddaughter Bella, step-grandson Brendan, son-in-law Frank, and son-in-law-to-be Raj. I have always had a great passion for the fields of education and care of young children, and support and education of families.
I'm a lifelong educator and I earned my master's and doctoral degrees at Binghamton University where I also teach as an adjunct. I'm retired from Union Endicott School District (go Tigers!) where I taught for 32 years — 22 of those in kindergarten. I've been in the Division of Education at Keuka College for 11 years.
What's your book called?
An Introduction to Early Childhood Education: An Interactive Text
What sparked the idea?
The National Social Science Press publisher approached me in late 2011, pitching an idea of writing an online book — an innovative instructional delivery format which combines text, hyperlinks, and videos. For many years, I have wanted to write a comprehensive textbook about early childhood education and this new format seemed to meet the needs of the generation of digital learners entering colleges and universities.
The first edition was released in 2013 and was well received in many early childhood education departments across the US. With the vast changes in research and public policy, an updated second edition was needed and was just released in February 2017. New research and policy are released almost monthly, so a third edition or extensive re-write will be coming in the next few years!
We heard you've added an international flavor to the second edition. How did that come to be?
I have always been fascinated with the early childhood philosophies and public policy of other countries. I have extensively studied the systems in Italy, Finland, Sweden, France, and Singapore. I was given the incredible opportunity by Keuka College to study in Reggio Emilia, Italy and Pistoia, Italy during a sabbatical leave in spring 2015. My data collection "rounded out" the research and writing I had been working on for several years and greatly contributed to the second edition of the book. I hope to travel to Finland and Denmark in the near future to collect more research data to inform my writing and teaching.
Do you have any great stories about the process?
Here's one that wasn't very funny at the time but I can chuckle about now. National Social Science Press endeavors to keep textbook costs low for college students, so that means authors do their own editing. I was under a pressurized deadline in August 2013 to get the entire 425 pages of textbook edited for typos and grammatical errors as well as checking for correct APA formatting. August wasn't very pleasant that year, but I got the work done and thought it was successful... until one of my Keuka College students found a sentence structure error. I was devastated!
How does this impact your teaching and your students?
This book greatly supports and organizes my teaching. EDU 264: Infants and Toddlers is an introduction to early childhood education and my textbook serves as a comprehensive resource that students use in this course. I also use portions of the book in subsequent courses (at no additional costs to the students). Additionally, the book is a great resource as teachers and childcare center directors go out into the field of education and care for young children. I use the book as a valuable resource in my consulting and research presentations.
Ironically, as I am writing this, I am in Las Vegas to present my Reggio Emilia/Pistoia research to the National Social Science Annual Conference. My research supports the need for American schools to adopt many of the practices of the Italian municipal schools.
For people who aren't in your classes but are interested in reading your book, how can they find it?
The book, An Introduction to Early Childhood Education: An Interactive Text (National Social Science Press: El Cajon, CA) was released in August 2013. The second edition was just released in February 2017. It can be purchased online, and the Keuka College Bookstore will also have it for the Fall 2017 semester.